Colors: Purple Color

An update to Birmingham City Council’s Social Value Policy and the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility, designed to better align them to with the council’s priorities, are set to be presented to Cabinet on December 11.

The proposals before Cabinet also include the incorporation of a Construction Charter, covering key topics in the sector including:

-          Health and safety;

-           Employment and skills (to help address a shortage of workers in the sector);

-          Ethical practices.

Cllr Brett O’Reilly, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources at Birmingham City Council, said: “To ensure that everyone in Birmingham is best placed to benefit from the spending power of the city council, we must always ensure that every pound of taxpayer money is spent with the economic, social and environmental well-being of citizens in mind.

“Our Social Value policy and the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility have been tools that have done much to achieve progress on this front.

“More than two-thirds of £1.1billion we spent in 2016/17 went to Birmingham-based or branched suppliers. Of that £1.1billion, almost half (£501million) went to small and medium-sized businesses.

“Much of that money then remains in the local economy, supporting citizens and their families. But we cannot afford to stand still. The proposal to Cabinet will ensure that our policies and approaches are aligned to the council’s overall priorities, which will ensure that our spend is even more targeted and effective than ever before.”

The idea adopting a construction charter was first put forward to the council by Unite the union, which has agreed to Birmingham’s version which is being put to Cabinet for their endorsement next week.

Cllr O’Reilly added: “As a city, Birmingham is always changing, and wherever you are, there is always a construction project nearby – often with some sort of city council input.

“With major house building projects, industrial and commercial schemes and events such as the Commonwealth Games on the horizon, it is important to ensure the interests of those working in a sector that is hugely important for us are acknowledged.”

adi Building & Refurbishment is on a solid growth trajectory but it has signalled even greater ambition with the November appointment of Adrian Adams as Construction Director to further strengthen the business’ senior team.

A key arm of Birmingham-based firm, adi Group, adi Building & Refurbishment has enjoyed significant growth over recent years, providing construction, refurbishment and fit-out projects for some of the leading companies and brands across the UK.

Adrian has 30 years’ experience, having built strong client and supply chain relationships across the construction industry, and a successful track record of delivering successful projects and maintaining excellent client relationships.

In particular, he brings with him a wealth of expertise in delivering national frameworks and special projects. His remit at adi is to head up the Major Projects division, focusing on projects over £500,000 in value, and to use his drive and enthusiasm to bolster the company’s growth, as part of adi Group’s broader turnover and job creation targets for 2020.

David Beebee, Managing Director of adi Building & Refurbishment, said, “I want to continue to use relationships to generate opportunities, win them and then deliver projects profitably and to a very high standard. Working with our talented existing team, Adrian will ensure our growth is sustainable for the long-term and that our levels of client satisfaction remain extremely high.

There are exciting times ahead at adi Building & Refurbishment and I am proud of what we have achieved so far on our growth journey. We have recruited some of the best people in the local construction industry and that has helped us get where we are today. Adrian’s appointment continues that pattern and will only accelerate our move to the next level.”

Adrian himself said of his appointment, “I am delighted to join a firm with such strong core values as adi and at an exciting stage in its development. I see huge growth potential for the business and I am looking forward to playing my part in helping it achieve its ambitions.”

Kuti's Brasserie, the new fine dining Indian restaurant which opened in on the historic Royal Pier in Southampton this summer, has received three major accolades inside a week.

On Sunday 17th November restaurateur Kuti Miah and chef Ravi Rai completed an incredible week when they were presented with the trophy for Best Newcomer, from BBC TV News presenter, Babita Sharm at the Asian Curry Awards 2018 at Grosvenor House, Park Lane in Mayfair.

Earlier in the week Kuti's Brasserie was named Restaurant of the Year by Scottish-based celebrity chef Tommy Miah at his International Indian Chef of the Year Awards 2018, also in London.

A remarkable triple began when the restaurant received a prestigious Certificate of Excellence from Cobra Good Curry Guide Editor, Pat Chapman.

“This is the proudest week of my life and is testament to the hard work we've put in in creating one of the most impressive destination venues on the south coast,” said Kuti Miah.

Pat Chapman, who is also chairman of the judges for the Asian Curry Awards agreed: “Kuti's is unique, located in an iconic historical landmark, where the expertly cooked food matches the distinctive venue,” he said.

Tommy Miah echoed the sentiments, saying: “I know how hard the team at Kuti's Brasserie work to serve their community, and we are delighted to recognise their brilliant service … with our highest business award.

Set in an imposing two-story property, Kuti's Brasserie has four dining areas with 110 covers on the ground floor; 60 on the first floor; 30 upstairs in the Chandelier Cocktail Bar; and 60 additional seats on the outdoor rooftop terrace, with views across Southampton Water.

New research from Charter Savings Bank reveals that those in their 30s are the savviest savers, setting aside 58% of their disposable monthly income each month – 16 percentage points more than the national average of 42%.

The average monthly disposable income for a 30-something is £486 (after paying bills), and the amount saved each month is £280. They have a higher disposable income on average than the UK as a whole which comes in at £452.

But their disciplined approach to saving means they save nearly 50% more than the national average of £191 a month.

Charter Savings Bank’s study found big differences in the disposable income of men, at nearly £600, compared with women at just over £300, with women saving £134 a month compared with men saving £252.

The research found 11% of adults have never opened a savings account - the equivalent of around 5.7 million people. The number of non-savers rises to 20% among those in their 20s.

UK adults can perhaps be a bit more disciplined - just a tenth (10%) save a set amount of money each month which they don’t touch.

The average size of a savings pot in the UK is £23,629. Those in their 70s have the most, at £44,542, while those in their 20s have just £5,440. There is a big gender savings gap with men having £12,000 more in savings than women at £29,549 compared to £17,611.

The main reason to save for all age groups is having cash for an emergency – but this becomes more important with age, with 63% of people in their 70s saving for a rainy day compared to 44% of people in their 30s. It’s not all about worries though - holidays are the second key factor for saving for people in their 40s, 60s and 70s. Long term financial security is the second most important factor for people in their 20s, while 30-somethings want short term financial security.

Paul Whitlock, Director of Savings, Charter Savings Bank, said: “It’s interesting to see that, no matter what age we are, a potential emergency is our primary motivator for setting money aside. Beyond that, everyone will have different priorities for how much they can afford to save and what they are saving for, depending on what stage of life they’re at.

“The important thing is to try and save as much as you can afford to, from as early an age as possible, and seek out the best rates possible. It may not seem worth putting a small sum away each month, but it’s a brilliant habit to get into, plus that money soon grows.”

Leadership and mentoring will take centre stage at an annual business lecture hosted by the University of Wolverhampton and the Chartered Management Institute.

The 25th Annual Crystal Lecture will take place in the Mary Seacole Building at the University’s Wolverhampton Campus on Thursday, 15 November 2018 at 6pm.

This year’s free event will be presented by former Regional Director for the Institute of Directors in the West Midlands, Dr John Phillips MBE, and Dr Jenni Jones, Senior Lecturer in the HR and Leadership department of the University of Wolverhampton Business School.

They will discuss leadership and mentoring from a practitioner and academic point of view.

The lecture will feature their own leadership and mentoring experiences with a particular emphasis on the successful University Student Mentoring programme, which they have worked on together for the last eight years.

Director of the Business School, Professor Clare Schofield, said: “We are delighted to be celebrating 25 years of partnering with the CMI for the annual Crystal Lecture.

“This year’s event will see John Phillips and Jenni Jones share highs, lows and funny moments with a view to demonstrate how a little investment in this valuable intervention can help make a huge difference. They will share their thoughts about how mentoring builds the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to be an effective leader into the future.”

The event will start at 6pm with refreshments and networking in the University’s Lord Swraj Paul Building, followed by the lecture in the Mary Seacole Building at 7pm.

The event will include the presentation of the CMI Rosebowl to a University of Wolverhampton Business School student.

Dr John Phillips MBE, retired in 2016 as Regional Director for the Institute of Directors in the West Midlands although he continues to serve as a volunteer. He was the first person to be employed by IoD outside of London in 1993, setting a trend with the organisation now having a UK wide physical presence. In 2010, with the help of Dr Jenni Jones, he set up a mentoring programme for final year business students at the University of Wolverhampton. John and Jenni continue to develop and run the programme in close partnership. Their work involving one to one mentoring from experienced directors concentrates on employability, soft skills and building confidence.

Dr Jenni Jones is a Senior Lecturer in the HR and Leadership Department at the University of Wolverhampton Business School. She is the Course Leader for their PGCert and MA in Coaching and Mentoring programmes and has published various articles on mentoring in the NHS, the Police and within Higher Education. She is also an active coach and mentor within and outside the University.

Law students from the University of Wolverhampton will be providing legal support to the public as part of two pop-up advice clinics.

Members of the public can attend for a free 20-minute consultation with a qualified solicitor specialising in family law matters, such as separation, divorce, and child custody issues, who will be shadowed by a law student.

The next clinic will be held on Thursday, 15 November 2018 from 12.30pm-2.30pm at the University’s Legal Advice Centre on the ground floor of the Mander Centre, Wolverhampton, supported by Thornes Solicitors.

Students at the University’s Legal Advice Centre provide free legal advice to the local community under the supervision of law lecturers or practising lawyers.

This was set up to provide students with valuable experience and also provide legal assistance to people who are unable to gain help through other organisations.

Beverley Rizzotto, Legal Advice Centre Manager, said: “Family Law continues to be an area in which many members of the public require advice and assistance, however due to funding cuts, are not able to afford such representation, or may simply not know whether they are eligible.

“Holding these family law clinics provides a much needed service to the general public, whilst also enabling our law students a great experience to shadow a qualified legal professional, gaining first-hand experience of how the law, learnt as part of their academic studies, is put into practice.”

No booking is required, and slots will be allocated on arrival. To avoid disappointment, it is advised to attend early.

The students who study law and volunteer at the University’s Legal Advice Centre will assist in managing the smooth running of the clinics, and sit in on client appointments, shadowing the solicitor obtaining valuable experience of how the law is put into practice.

Business leaders in Greater Birmingham today urged the government to reform “onerous and outmoded” business rates.

This followed the announcement that inflation fell more than expected in September after hitting a six-month high in August.

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) welcomed the prospect of no interest rate rises in the next six months but warned that the result will mean business rate rises in the spring. They rise every year in line with September’s inflation figure and, based on these results, the British Retail Consortium expects them to go up by £180m.

The Office for National Statistics said the fall to 2.4 per cent, down from 2.7 per cent, was largely driven by lower prices for food and non-alcoholic drinks.

Paul Faulkner, the GBCC’s chief executive, said: "Coupled with positive news regarding wage growth, it was pleasing to see inflationary pressure ease as we head into the autumn - hopefully both developments will ease the squeeze on household budgets.

"The announcement is also likely to dampen any prospect of an interest rate rise in the next six months as Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, will no doubt reassure us that inflation levels are edging closer to their two per cent target.

"Nevertheless, the result also confirms a sobering fact - business rates will be going up from next spring.

"Our latest Quarterly Business Report reveals that local firms are increasing affected by this onerous tax and we urge the Government to use the upcoming autumn statement to announce measures to reform this outmoded system and ease the burden on businesses up and down the country.

"We will be discussing this topic and others at the launch event for our latest Quarterly Business Report - I would urge local businesses to attend and share their views on these vital developments."

A high-flying University of Wolverhampton graduate has received a business boost from entrepreneur and former Dragon’s Den judge Theo Paphitis.

Anita Sharma is a Personal Growth and Wellbeing coach for women and children and caught the eye of the businessman during ‘Small Business Sunday’.

She tweeted retailer Theo about her business Anita Sharma Coaching and was one of six weekly winners to gain a retweet by Theo to his 500,000 Twitter followers.

Anita, who graduated with a BA (Hons) in Human Resources Management in 1998 and a PGCE in Business Studies in 1999, will now be profiled on the #SBS website that is exclusive to all Small Business Sunday winners.

She said: “It is great to have support from Theo because supporting people’s emotional wellbeing, especially among preteens and teens, is a passion of mine, however as a small business it has been tough trying to raise the profile of the work I do.  I am ecstatic that Theo has recognised my hard work and helped spread the word about what I do to his following.”

Nottingham-based Anita works with children to help them understand their emotions, reduce anxiety, build positive relationships, increase their confidence and self-esteem and manage academic pressure.

The weekly Small Business Sunday initiative was set up by Theo in 2010 and now has over 2200 #SBS winners and supports small businesses in the UK.

Current investment in infrastructure and technology will underpin future economic success in Birmingham, a major report published today (Friday, 12 October) has revealed.

The report is the second annual Birmingham Economic Review 2018, produced by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) and University of Birmingham’s City-Region Economic Development Institute (REDI), which aims to accelerate economic growth in the West Midlands. The report details Birmingham’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and has highlighted the city’s prosperous and growing digital sector and expertise in advanced technology.

In the report, it estimates that the city’s digital sector is estimated to have contributed £1.4 billion to GVA and created 36,802 jobs in 2017.

Alongside the digital sector, the report highlights the future impact infrastructure investments will have on the region.

Inward investments such as High Speed Rail, Midland Metro Extensions, 5G networks and high-fibre broadband were outlined in the report to enhance connectivity across the region. This has contributed to a high demand in homes and business premises in and around the city.

This increase in demand has been heeded as a warning from the report, as it states that high-quality business premises are now in short supply. The report states that development of strategic employment sites across Birmingham must be prioritised as a matter of urgency.

The skills blight was again identified in the report as a key issue in the region. It stated that residents in the city are less likely to have high-level qualifications and more likely to have few or no qualifications compared to national figures.

Additionally, the region still lags behind national rates for unemployment, as Birmingham’s employment rate was estimated at 63.6 per cent in 2017 compared to the national rate at 74.9 per cent.

The report features insights from many business leaders across the city.

John Crabtree, Lord Lieutenant for the West Midlands and chair of the 2022 Commonwealth Games organising committee, commented on the assets of the city and the number of opportunities ahead that will help shape the region’s future.

He said: “We are not only demographically the youngest city in Europe, but also one of the richest and most diverse.

“The many new citizens we have welcomed have had much to do with our improving economic fortunes.

“We have all the ingredients necessary to become the exemplar of the modern global city…if we do our job properly, we will have 24 months to secure lasting legacies for the entire Midlands with the City of Culture stewarded from Coventry and then the Commonwealth Games headlined in Birmingham.”

Professor Simon Collinson, deputy pro vice-chancellor at the University of Birmingham and Director of City-REDI said: “Building on the economic momentum we have already achieved, more firms are investing, more businesses are starting up, and more high-skilled, talented people are coming to our city-region to work, than we have seen in over a decade.

“Evidence presented in this year’s Birmingham Economic Review shows how and why we are increasingly attractive as a location for leading firms.

“We are delighted to work with the GBCC and other regional partners to help maintain the momentum and ensure that our economic success benefits all.”

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of the GBCC, said: “The Birmingham Economic Review continues to be one of our stand-out publications, fuelled by the expert analysis of the University of Birmingham’s City-REDI.

“We hope that this review again helps advise our members as they make investment decisions in our uncertain political climate, as our formal exit from the European Union approaches.

“There is no doubt that there are challenges ahead for the region, however the Birmingham Economic Review provides much optimism and demonstrates the region’s resilience and strength for the future.

“We would like to thank all of the businesses that contributed their expertise to this report, and brought the analysis to life.”

The new £12.5 million Black Country Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills (ECMS) has officially been launched by journalist and television presenter, Steph McGovern, marking a significant investment in the future of high-value manufacturing in the region.

ECMS is a collaboration between the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, University of Wolverhampton, Dudley College, Cast Metals Federation, Confederation of British Metalforming, Institute of Cast Metals Engineers and In-Comm Training.

Based on a Hub and Spoke model, dedicated training centres are now fully operational across the Black Country in collaboration with training providers and professional industry bodies to both upskill employees and train new apprentices in metal forming skills.

The ECMS Hub, based at the University of Wolverhampton’s £100 million regeneration project at the former Springfield Brewery, is an employer-led training facility for the Black Country which has been designed to build on the region’s renowned industrial heritage by providing specialist training, short courses and apprenticeships to upskill the current and future workforce, helping to close skills gaps identified by employers.

The ECMS Spokes comprise a new National Press and Tooling Centre designed and developed by the Confederation of British Metalforming and In Comm Training, located at the In-Comm Training Academy based in Aldridge, focusing on the delivery of toolmaking apprenticeships and technical courses. The Spoke at Dudley College focuses on advance welding training and the Spoke based in Tipton, designed and developed by the Cast Metals Federation and the Institute of Cast Metals Engineers, has advanced moulding and melting facilities which will be used to deliver foundry training at all levels.

Ian Fitzpatrick, Chief Executive at the ECMS, said: “This is a key strategic project for the Black Country which links further education and higher education with local, regional and national employers.

“It’s well known that the manufacturing industry has an ageing workforce and that bespoke training courses -specifically matching industry requirements - can be difficult to source.

“We have listened carefully to what industry needs, and together with our partners, we have designed manufacturing facilities equipped with world class equipment and where world class training will be delivered by some of the finest technical experts in the business.

“Our aim at the ECMS is to give our learners a clear line of sight and a career pathway from Levels 2, 3 and 4, through to Higher National Certificate and Diploma and then Degree Apprenticeships, offering a complete or bespoke training package for the manufacturing sector through both practical and theoretical learning.”

Ninder Johal, Black Country LEP Board Member said: “We are delighted to have worked with partners from the University and training providers to manufacturers and employers to ensure that this new state of the art facility will deliver provision that doesn’t currently exist in the Black Country.

“Funded through the Black Country LEP’s Growth Deal the ECMS will provide specialist training designed to improve productivity and growth across High Value Manufacturing in the Black Country and in doing so support the continued transformation of the Black Country economy.”

Apprentices learn on the job at one of the ECMS’s training Hub or Spokes equipped with new training rooms, metallurgy and metrology labs with access to partner training centres and state-of-the-art engineering facilities. All apprenticeships meet the New Apprenticeship Standards with a variety of delivery models available.

Courses have been developed, with employer input, in casting, toolmaking, patternmaking, metalforming and foundry training, as well as mechatronics, product design and development and advanced computer numerical control.

The Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership approved £8.5 million for the project and the partners have invested £4 million.

The Chancellor’s announcement of a new package of support for skills and productivity is an endorsement of pressure applied by the West Midlands business community.

That was the verdict after Phillip Hammond announced at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham that the annual apprenticeship levy transfer facility will rise from 10 to 25 per cent.

Mr Hammond also said that he would consult with businesses about further changes to the levy from 2020, following the slow take up and employer criticisms.

He also announced that the government’s recent productivity review, to which the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) contributed, found a management skills challenge in the UK’s small business community.

In order to address this, £20 million will be invested in networks to enable small businesses to learn from each other and from world leading firms. Over 100 mentors from companies, such as GSK, Amazon, KPMG and Siemens, have already signed up to offer their management expertise.

A further £11 million will pay for a management-skills training programme, anticipated to help 2,000 businesses in its first year, with an ambition to train 10,000 people a year by 2025.

Paul Faulkner (pictured), chief executive of the GBCC, said: “We have repeatedly called on stakeholders to increase the flexibility of the apprenticeship levy. The measures announced today, particularly around increasing levy transfers, are a positive indication that the voice of the business community is being heard.

“It is our hope that by allowing large businesses to transfer up to 25 per cent of unused levy funds –-as opposed to 10 per cent currently - more SMEs will be able to access high quality apprenticeships and close persistent skills gaps, which are particularly prevalent in parts of the West Midlands.

“However, as the government and the West Midlands Combined Authority work towards targets of higher apprenticeship-starts, it is crucial that quality is prioritised over quantity, and that all communities feel equipped to access such opportunities.”

On the outcomes of the productivity review, Mr Faulkner said: “The GBCC contributed a detailed response to the government’s productivity review earlier this year. This response was based on data from our annual Growth Through People campaign which, since its launch in 2017, has similarly aimed to boost productivity through improving leadership and management skills.

“Growth Through People has been a hugely successful campaign, with over 450 delegates from businesses across Greater Birmingham attending 17 events earlier this year and an ‘excellent’ net promoter score of 64.

“In 2019 the campaign is set to be bigger and better, with a significant increase in the bespoke digital content from business leaders and experts accompanying the free events series.

“We very much welcome the government to join us at the 2019 Growth Through People campaign, beginning in February next year, and experience its impact first-hand.”

A leading marketing expert will share his insights on what makes a brand stand-out from the competition at a University of Wolverhampton lecture.

Professor Malcolm McDonald will visit the University on Wednesday, 10 October 2018 to present the annual Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) lecture.

The talk, titled Creating Market Leading Value Propositions, will take place in room MH002 in the Mary Seacole Building at the Wolverhampton City Campus at 6pm. There will be refreshments in the Lord Swraj Building Forum café from 5.30pm.

Professor McDonald has written over 40 marketing books and his best-selling 'Marketing Plans' has sold over half a million copies worldwide.

Professor McDonald works with the operating boards of the world’s biggest multinational companies such as IBM, Xerox and BP. He is an Emeritus Professor at Cranfield and a Visiting Professor at Henley, Warwick, Aston and Bradford Business Schools.

Organiser Dr Roy Broad, Lecturer in Marketing, said: “We are delighted to welcome Professor Malcolm McDonald to present our lecture this year. Malcolm is arguably one of the UK's most eminent authorities on marketing strategy and his lecture will no doubt be interesting, engaging and insightful.”

The lecture is open to invited guests, students, staff and members of the CIM and the event will finish at 8pm.

Business leaders in Greater Birmingham today urged transport secretary Chris Grayling to ignore calls for HS2 to be scrapped and reiterate the government’s commitment to the project.

 

Business secretary Greg Clark said scrapping the link between London, the Midlands and the North of England would be “entirely the wrong approach” after former foreign secretary Boris Johnson said that instead the UK should build a bridge to Ireland and put HS2 on hold to focus on a high-speed link in the North of England.

 

Phase 1 of the railway between London and Birmingham was approved 18 months ago and will open in December 2026. Phase 2 is expected to launch in two separate stages. Phase 2a from the West Midlands to Crewe will begin in 2027 followed by Phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester and Birmingham to Leeds in 2033.

 

Paul Faulkner (pictured), chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “In a time of great political and economic uncertainty, the last thing we need are headline-grabbing articles calling for HS2 to be scrapped.

 

“In particular, Phase 2 is the real game-changer for our region. Connecting Birmingham to eight of the UK’s 10 largest cities will offer our businesses the chance to explore and expand into new domestic and international markets along with improving connectivity across the country which will provide a real shot in the arm to productivity levels in the West Midlands and beyond.

 

“We are often told that building infrastructure fit for the 21st century is the key to unleashing the vast economic potential that exists locally so we are urging Mr Grayling to not waste this chance and use this year’s Conservative Conference in Birmingham to reiterate the Government’s support for the project – the country’s future prosperity rests upon it.”

The £7 million construction of a range of industrial and warehouse units is set to bring 165 jobs to the City of Wolverhampton.

The development of six units at Steelpark Trading Estate, at Steelpark Way and Bearing Drive, in Wednesfield, is close to being completed. All six units are either sold, let or under offer.

They have been developed by commercial property company Goold Estates and provide around 70,000 sq ft of industrial/warehouse space.

Businesses set to move into the new units include the likes of Kinetrol Powerite and CS Labels.

The news comes during the City of Wolverhampton’s Business Programme, with the flagship event – the Business Breakfast – taking place opposite Steelpark, at GTG Training and Conference Centre, tomorrow (Thursday).

Councillor John Reynolds, City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “There is £3.7 billion of investment on site or in the pipeline in the City of Wolverhampton and this is another boost for our regeneration plans.

“The Steelpark Trading Estate development has brought back to life a site that has been redundant for many years, while at the same time protecting wildlife in the area. It shows there is confidence in investing in the City of Wolverhampton - and most importantly it will deliver around 165 jobs.”

Dominic Goold, Managing Director of Goold Estates, said: “Steelpark has been a resounding success. The site had been vacant and available for development for many years. We acquired it just two years ago and quickly secured planning consent from the City of Wolverhampton Council, along with funding from Finance Birmingham.

“From the moment we started on site, it proved to be extremely popular with businesses looking to buy or lease high quality units in what is an excellent location. Now, all of the six units – which were built speculatively because we were confident of a strong demand in the market - are sold, let or under offer.

“Four of the business are new to Wolverhampton, while two have expanded in addition to their existing operations. They have created around 165 jobs for local people at the development, which represents a £7 million investment in Wolverhampton – a huge vote of confidence in the city as a place to do business.”

Finance Birmingham arranged speculative development finance to help fund the project through the West Midlands Combined Authority Collective Investment Fund CIF. This fund aims to accelerate economic regeneration, assisting developers and land owners to bring forward schemes such as Steelpark.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has opened unparalleled opportunities for the world economy, as technological and digital innovations make a profound impact on daily life.

But Industry 4.0 also unfolds during turbulent times, facing key persistent challenges such as rising debts, rising energy costs, slowing growth and the on-going trade war.

Countries not only need to combat these challenges, but also urgently need to develop their digital capacities to boost trade competitiveness in this new context.

The 2018 UNCTAD Report on Trade and Development, titled ‘Power, Platforms and the Free Trade Delusion’, examines these challenges, including the implications of the on-going trade war for the global economy, as a whole as well as in different countries/regions.

These issues have significant implications for Commonwealth countries, especially small states, as digital connectivity plays an increasing critical role in meeting sustainable development, trade and employment goals.

Key findings can provide a way forward for developing countries in the digital era.

Key speakers:

  • Dr. Richard Kozul-Wright, Director - Division on Globalization and Development Strategies, UNCTAD (lead author)
  • Ms. Opeyemi Abebe, Trade Adviser – Trade, Oceans and Natural Resources Directorate, Commonwealth Secretariat
With introductions by Mr. Sujeevan Perera - Trade Adviser – Trade, Oceans and Natural Resources Directorate, Commonwealth Secretariat

Date/Venue: Wednesday 26 September, 10am to 11.30am at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Marlborough House (Main Conference Hall), Pall Mall, London SW17 5HX.

A leading industry figure has been awarded an honorary degree from the University of Wolverhampton for his contribution to building business links.

Chris Blythe, who has spent over 25 years working at all levels of vocational education and training, has been awarded a Doctor of Professional Practice in recognition of his business achievements.

After graduating from Wolverhampton Polytechnic in 1976, Chris trained as a management accountant and, after qualifying, held a number of financial positions with firms such as Dunlop, Birmid Qualcast, Mitel, W Canning, Corgi Toys and GKN Sankey.

In 1991, he joined the North & Mid Cheshire Training and Enterprise Council based in Warrington, an organisation delivering programmes to get young people and long-term unemployed adults into work and business development

Chris joined the Chartered Institute of Building in January 2000 as Chief Executive, a post he currently holds. He has recently led the Institute in tackling labour exploitation in the construction industry. In the Queen’s 2017 New Year’s Honours List, Chris received an OBE for services to the construction industry and government.

Chris said: “I am deeply honoured by the award especially as I am an alumnus of the university. Wolverhampton Polytechnic as it was gave me an opportunity which became the foundation for everything that has happened for me since. It is pleasing to see that the university is still providing opportunities and will create even more with the new Springfield campus.”

Honorary awards are presented by the University of Wolverhampton to people who have made a significant contribution to their field of expertise.